By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
For the third year in a row, Montclair Local has garnered the New Jersey Press Association’s General Excellence award, celebrating dozens of pieces that earned praise from contest judges.
The paper’s 34 awards (not including General Excellence) span many categories — for multimedia elements; online breaking news; coronavirus coverage; packaging the news; reporting, writing and illustration in multiple categories; responsible journalism in multiple categories, sports content and layout; and feature and portrait photos. The General Excellence Award winner is selected based on a tally of points assigned for the other awards.
In 2020, Montclair Local won 24 NJPA awards for its 2019 coverage.
Competing against weekly papers from throughout the state, judges commended Montclair Local for its “balanced, unbiased reporting that provides a voice to the community.
“The newspaper staff does an excellent job of originally reporting the story and following up with coverage of related events.”
On Montclair Local’s coverage of the township being the test case for mail-in balloting in the May election, one judge wrote: “Comprehensive and easily understood sequence of events, serving the public’s need to understand the issue. As we saw later this past year, there is no limit to the detail that must be provided when voting is involved.”
On Montclair Local’s coverage of rent control, another judge wrote:
“Strong reporting on a complex issue and the government process that can add to confusion — but did not, in this series of stories.”
Montclair Local launched in March 2017 and became a member of NJPA — an organization comprising nearly 200 newspapers and dozens of digital news websites throughout the state — in 2018. The news organization has transferred all operations into a nonprofit effective January of this year.
Of Montclair Local’s 34 awards, 11 were for first place in their categories, eight were for second place and 15 were for third place. In many cases, Montclair Local placed more than once in a single category.
Award-winning submissions were as follows:
- Coverage of Government: ‘Residents ask to hear more from mayor, council’ | ‘Back to business‘ | ‘Town clamps down on tents‘ — Jaimie Julia Winters
- Investigative Reporting: ‘Special ed standoff’ — Andrew Garda
- News Writing: ‘Split over road closings’ | ‘Technology challenge’ | ‘A new place for remote learning’ — Andrew Garda
- Special Subject Writing: ‘Trying to build bridges’ | ‘BOE criticized’ | ‘A call for accountability‘ | ‘Reforming vs. defunding’ — Jaimie Julia Winters, Erin Roll, Andrew Garda
- Responsible Journalism, Enterprise: ‘Viral video inspires impromptu march against racism’ | ‘The remedies for false reports’ — Jaimie Julia Winters
- Responsible Journalism, First Amendment: ‘Family files court notice alleging bullying’ | ’Moms demand equality’ | ‘Advocating equity‘ | ‘Moms take to the streets’ — Jaimie Julia Winters, Rebecca Jones, Erin Roll, Gwen Orel
- Responsible Journalism, Public Service: ‘Montclair as a proving ground’ | ‘Suing for a recount’ | ‘New mayor, council to be sworn in July 1’ | ‘Making sure your choice counts’ | ‘Count denied’ — Jaimie Julia Winters
- Best Multimedia Element: ‘Whoopi Goldberg empowers women’ — Gwen Orel, Adam Anik
- Portrait Photos: ‘Dancing out trauma’ — Kate Albright
- Packaging the News, General Typography & Layout of the Entire Paper: Feb. 20 and June 25 editions — Staff
- Packaging the News, Special Section: Holiday Happenings — Jaimie Julia Winters, Andrea Bondy
- Responsible Journalism, Public Service: ‘Rent control ordinance blocked’ | ‘Rent control petition advances’ | ‘Emails, phone numbers released’ | ‘Group refiles petition’ | ‘Clerk rejects second petition’ — Jaimie Julia Winters
- Arts & Entertainment Writing: ‘Finding moments to cherish’ — Gwen Orel
- Best Multimedia Element: ‘Valentine’s Day: Be mine, be yours, self-love’ — Kate Albright
- Column Writing: ‘What’s in your backyard’ — David Wasmuth
- Feature Picture Story: ‘Bears and rainbows’ — Kate Albright
- Feature Writing: ‘Letters from caring friends‘ — Gwen Orel
- Headline Writing: ‘Put on PJs, jump in the car’ | ‘Steps toward a trail’ | ‘They have each others’ backs’ — Joe Dziublenski
- Sports Section Layout and Content: Jan. 30 and Feb. 27 editions — Kevin Meacham, Andrew Garda
- Arts & Entertainment Writing: ‘Redemptive, quirky art‘ — Gwen Orel
- Coverage of Crime, Police and Courts: ’Judge denies town’s request to dismiss stay of ordinance‘ | ‘Lawyer: Send plan back to board‘ | ‘Montclair appeals emails ruling’ — Jaimie Julia Winters
- Coverage of Elections / Politics, ‘Spiller responds to claims of conflict of interest’ | ‘By the numbers‘ | ‘The COVID campaign’ — Jaimie Julia Winters
- Coverage of Government: ‘Razing denied‘ | ‘Banning leaf blowers during pandemic would be illegal’ | ‘Rents to be frozen?’ — Jaimie Julia Winters
- Environmental, Health & Science Writing: ‘Recycling clog-up’ — Andrew Garda
- Interpretive Writing: ‘Learning in bubbles’ —Jaimie Julia Winters
- Sports Writing Portfolio: ‘Stoppage of play’ | ‘A Mountie great departs’ | ‘Gearing up’ — Andrew Garda
- General Coronavirus / COVID-19 Coverage: ‘Stuck in Guatemala‘ | ‘Montclair applauds the front line‘ | ‘Learning to make the show go on‘ | ‘Shofar blasts, safely’ | ‘Latino community faces challenges of COVID-19‘ — Gwen Orel
- Best Multimedia Element: ‘COVID-19: Neighbors have nightly toast amid the crisis’ — Kate Albright and Jaimie Julia Winters
- Online Breaking News: ‘About 1,000 marchers rally in Montclair for Black Lives Matter’ | Adam Anik
- Responsible Journalism, First Amendment: ‘Airing it out’ | ‘Ventilation problems detailed in new report’ — Andrew Garda
- Headline Writing: ‘Scents and sensibility in the yard’ | ‘Down love-15 before starting’ | ‘Good hair days’ — Joe Dziublenski
- Packaging the News, Editorial Section Layout and Content: Feb. 27 and June 25 editions — Jaimie Julia Winters, Andrea Bondy, Kevin Meacham
- Packaging the News, Front Page Layout: Feb. 20 and Nov. 12 editions — Jaimie Julia Winters, Andrea Bondy, Kevin Meacham, Andrew Garda
- Packaging the News, Special Issue: ‘Fall in Montclair’ — Jaimie Julia Winters, Andrea Bondy